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Infant IQ differences not linked to fatty acids.

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Differences in IQ between children who were breastfed and those fed unfortified formula in infancy are largely explained by maternal educational attainment and intelligence, a study has found. There has been considerable interest in the role that long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) might play in neurodevelopment, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid. It is unclear whether the use of DHA-fortified formula is associated with longer-term cognitive or neuropsychological benefits. To investigate the relation between breastfeeding, DHA-fortified formula use and neuropsychological function, Southampton Women's Survey researchers conducted a prospective cohort study with 241 children aged four, followed up from birth. At six months, the number of days that each was fed breastmilk, DHA-fortified formula or unfortified formula was calculated. There were 130 children in the breastmilk group, 65 in the fortified-formula group and 46 in the unfortified formula group. The proportions of mothers with A levels or a degree or from social classes I or II were highest in the breastmilk group and lowest in the unfortified-formula group.

At age four, the children's IQ was assessed at home using the Wechsler Pre-School and Primary Scale of Intelligence. Children for whom breastmilk or DHA-fortified formula was the main method of feeding throughout the first six months had higher mean full-scale and verbal IQ scores than those fed mainly unfortified formula. After adjustment for potential confounding factors, particularly maternal IQ and educational attainment, IQ differences between children in the breastmilk and unfortified formula groups were severely attenuated, but children fed DHA-fortified formula had full-scale and verbal IQ scores that were higher than those fed unfortified formula. However, estimated total DHA intake up to age six months was not associated with subsequent IQ or other test score. Differences between children who were breastfed and those fed unfortified formula were explained largely by maternal educational attainment and intelligence, and the apparent IQ advantage associated with fortified formula may be due to unmeasured factors in the home environment that influence the choice of fortified versus unfortified formula. The fact that fortified formula was linked with differences in verbal but not performance IQ provides further support for this explanation, the researchers suggest.

Gale CR, Marriott LD, Martyn CN, Limond J, Inskip HM, Godfrey KM, Law CM, Cooper C, West C, Robinson SM. Breastfeeding, the use of docosahexaenoic acid-fortified formulas infancy and neuropsychological function in childhood. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2010; doi: 10.1136/adc.2009.165050 (4 February 2010).
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Title Annotation:CLINICAL PAPERS
Author:Thompson, June
Publication:Community Practitioner
Article Type:Abstract
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 1, 2010
Words:406
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